Baltimore lost one of its most prominent citizens from its most prominent family when Dr. Keiffer Mitchell Sr. died on Tuesday, August 18. Dr. Mitchell, a well-regarded Baltimore physician and civil rights activist, passed away at age 73 after a brief fight with an illness. He was a dedicated health care professional, serving Baltimore’s poorest citizens for decades; a tremendous role model, he inspired his own children to pursue careers in service to others; and an avid photographer and painter. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Nannette; his three children, present Governor Larry Hogan special advisor and former City Councilman and State Delegate Keiffer Jr., Kelly Newhouse, and Kathleen Mitchell; and four grandchildren.
Dr. Mitchell is the son of Baltimore’s original power couple, NAACP leader Clarence Mitchell Jr. and Juanita Jackson Mitchell, who was the first African-American woman to practice law in the state of Maryland. His parents were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, inspiring their son to dedicate his life to the equal treatment of all citizens. As a child, Dr. Mitchell became the first black student to attend Gwynn Falls Junior High School after segregation officially ended in 1954 enduring taunts and mistreatment while achieving academic excellence. After college and medical school, Dr. Mitchell opened his own gastroenterology office on Druid Hill Avenue in Upton, where he treated anyone who came to him, regardless of financial status. According to lawyer William H. “Billy” Murphy, he could have easily relocated to make higher profits – but that wasn’t Dr. Mitchell’s top priority. Murphy said, “He stayed so he could be a role model for kids who had none.”
Dr. Mitchell will be deeply missed by the Baltimore community. His mourners range from those in the medical profession and his patients, to NAACP members and Maryland politicians. He was truly a prominent member of Baltimore as one of the few black physicians in the Baltimore area and the first to serve on the Johns Hopkins University medical school admissions committee. As a member of the powerhouse Mitchell family, a family many consider to be Baltimore’s version of the Kennedy family because of their diverse and significant civic impact, Dr. Mitchell made his own mark and changed Baltimore for the better.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, whose own parents are regarded as leaders in public service and medicine, released a statement regarding Dr. Mitchell’s death, saying “All of Baltimore mourns the loss of a member of our legendary civil rights family, the Mitchells… My prayers are with the entire Mitchell family.” President of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, Tessa Hill-Aston, called Dr. Mitchell “…the prime example of the old-fashioned, community doctor” and said that his death represented a real loss to the city. The Harris Jones & Malone team recognizes Dr. Mitchell’s tremendous impact on the Baltimore community and wishes his family and friends well in their time of mourning.
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